Martlet – also known as the Lightweight Multi-role Missile – was originally designed to be fired by Wildcat helicopters to take out small boats which posed a threat to the Fleet, alongside the heavier Sea Venom for dealing with larger warships.
But recent incidents where both merchant and military shipping have been attacked by manned and unmanned surface and air systems armed with explosive devices, underlined the risks faced by Royal Navy units deployed in danger zones.
The impressive result of this trial was achieved through the hard work and cooperation of a wide array of industry and defence partners and it was rewarding for Sutherland to have played such a key role in its success.
Commander Tom Weaver, Commanding Officer HMS Sutherland
All ships are armed with a series of machine-guns and Mini-guns (manually-operated Gatling guns) to fend off small craft, while some are also equipped with Phalanx automated guns which spew out a hail of bullets at incoming aircraft, missiles and threats on the surface.
The Royal Navy wanted to add to those defences and turned to the new missile system, modifying it so a launcher could be fitted to the existing 30mm automatic gun.
Just five months after the idea was mooted, the Plymouth-based frigate was off the Aberporth Range at the southern end of Cardigan Bay facing a fast inshore attack craft tearing across the water.
After first proving that the gun could still fire accurately with the missile fitted – 120 rounds obliterated a large red ‘killer tomato’ target – and that the sensors behind Martlet could track its radio-controlled foe at ranges of up to five kilometres.
Finally, four missiles were fired – one to test the effect of the Martlet ‘blasting off’ from its launcher on the gun mounting and the side of Sutherland (the missile accelerates to one and a half times the speed of sound in an instant), three packed with telemetry to measure the missile’s accuracy (ordinarily the weapon carries a 3kg warhead).
The rapid integration of Lightweight Multi-Role Missile on to the 30mm gun demonstrates how Thales can quickly develop cost-effective high capability solutions to meet the evolving threats faced by our naval forces.
Malcolm McKenzie, Thales
According to Thales, LMM is a low cost, lightweight, precision strike, missile, which has been designed to be fired from tactical platforms including fixed or rotary winged UAV s and surface platforms. The system is designed to provide a rapid reaction to a wide range of the surface threats from wheeled or tracked vehicles, towed artillery or static installations; naval threats from small ships and fast inshore attack craft and an air threat from light aircraft.
• Max Range: >6 km (Surface Launch)
• Min Range: <400 m• Guidance: Laser Beam Riding
• Max Mach: ~1.5
• Diameter: 76 mm
• Length: 1.3 m
• Max Weight: 13 kg
• Warhead: Dual Effect, Blast Fragmentation and Shaped Charge
• Fuze: Impact and Proximity Modes, selectablepre-launch
• Propulsion: 2 Stage Solid fuel, Low Smoke Propellant
• High level of Insensitive Munition compliance
• Immune to all known Countermeasures